Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians: Ori Dagan. Jazz Singer-Songwriter

“Most of the musicians who have influenced me are African American, but I’ve studied songs written by George Gershwin and Irving Berlin”  – Ori Dagan

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Ori Dagan

Music Online. Under the Radar.

Welcome to our Sunday music section called

“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”

By David Eisenstadt

TORONTO. May 29/22 – When someone mentions The Jazz Singer, I’m reminded of the hallmark musical on-screen performances by Neil Diamond and Eddie Cantor.

Today, there’s a bright, new jazz singer on the horizon. His name is Ori Dagan and he’s Israel’s gift to Canada. 

Ori Dagan recently popped up on my radar as the Grand Prize winner of The Great American Song Contest for his new tune, Viruses, co-written with rapper Erik Flow.

Born to a secular Jewish family in Haifa on June 8, 1981, they immigrated to Toronto in 1989.  Father Baruch (Barry) is of Hungarian background; his Mother Lea (nee Koltanowsky) has Polish-Lithuanian roots and was born in Israel.

Ori told me that “classical music was revered in our home and at age four, I asked my parents for a musical instrument and was given the choice of piano or violin.”  Starting at six, for the next 10 years, the talented youngster played the piano” but was undisciplined and bored with practicing the same thing over and over.  Two years after I stopped studying classical, I discovered Ella Fitzgerald’s music, and was hooked for life.” 

Saxophonist Bob Mover was Dagan’s first mentor.  “He was such a huge inspiration.  I had never met anyone so passionate about jazz because he worked with the likes of Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, and Anita O’Day.” 

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Click Right Here

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<

Dagan attended the University of Toronto studying English Literature but switched to York University to study jazz vocals and classical voice, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007. He also spent two years in Humber College’s music program learning songwriting and performance study.

Fast forward, he recorded Songs My Parents Shared With Me based on the music he heard around the house – Israeli pop music and classics like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf”. 

He said, “Most of the musicians who have influenced me are African American, but I’ve studied songs written by George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Some of my favourite lyricists are Jewish – Lorenz Hart, Dorothy Fields, and Dave Frishberg – which play into my new album comprised of all original songs – Click Right Here.”

Dagan has a rich bass-baritone voice and has played with many talented musicians from his home base in Toronto “too many to name, but I will single out two – guitarist Nathan Hiltz, a composer and co-writer with me on various songs, and bassist Jordan O’Connor, a collaboration which began in 2005.”

Two albums he recorded included S’Cat Got My Tongue in 2009, featuring 15 musicians highlighting duets with vocalists Heather Bambrick, Terra Hazelton, Julie Michaels, and Sophia Perlman, and in 2012, Less Than Three < 3

In 2017, he released Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole as the first visual album in the jazz genre.  Featured guest appearances included the multi-instrumentalist Jane Bunnett and the Eric St-Laurent Trio, plus he did duets with Alex Pangman and Sheila Jordan.   The song Sweetheart was co-written with Hiltz winning the “Best Jazz Song” at the American Songwriting Awards.  In 2021, Dagan was recognized in the Greater Toronto Area as the  “Best Local Musician, Solo or Group” in the Now Magazine Reader’s Poll.

He has racked up over20 awards during his career starting in 2010 when CBC Radio1 named him “Canada’s Next Top Crooner”. Other awards have come from Film Festivals around the world.  His single Clap On The 2 And The 4, won a Hollywood Songwriting Contest for “Best Children’s Song” in 2015 and three awards in 2016, as “Best Educational Jazz Short” at the New York City Jazz Festival,  “Best Jazz Song” at the Polish International Film Festival, and he was the “Best Male Vocalist” and Bronze Medal winner at the online Global Music Awards in La Jolla, California.

Dagan has released over 15 music videos including Googleable, Bad Romance, and the 12 videos accompanying Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole – all in 2012.  In 2016, he released Clap on the 2 and the 4.

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Clap on the 2 and the 4

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<

When asked about how the Covid pandemic affected his work, Dagan said, “It, of course, has been challenging, but with it came many blessings.  I found the time and was able to write and record my latest album, Click Right Here, which recently debuted at a concert at Toronto’s El Mocambo. I also kept busy with weekly live-stream concerts totalling over one million views which brought new fans/followers around the world.

What’s next?  With this release “it is an exciting next step forward redefining myself as a jazz singer-songwriter, as opposed to a crooner who covers other artists’ songs.  I’ll certainly be performing in and around Toronto with touring dates around the world now in the planning stages.”


Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians can also be heard on our Community Jewish News Podcast service. Click HERE to hear our podcast about Ori Dagan.

Credits: Photo of Dagan: Jen Squires; Ori Dagan/YouTube;

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A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in the category section. Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David  Eisenstadt at  or

David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is the author of Under the Radar, 30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians. He is Founding Partner of and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

Reader’s Comments

-Thank you.  I read your columns as a subscriber and enjoy it. – GP, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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